Week 6, 7, 8, 9
Well since i’m nearly a month behind on these posts, I figured that I might as well do a bit of a recap of the last 4 weeks. I’ll be recapping weeks 6-9. And really, it’s not even worth writing separate posts for these weeks. From mid October to the end of last week, I was pretty much living the definition of insanity; that is: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. So what happened was that I pretty much only ran and neglected everything else: mobility, yoga, strength training, breathing, sleeping, eating to properly fuel myself, resting. I kept doing it, because I like running. I like how I feel during and after. I’m also compulsive. If I like to do something, I just want to do more of that. So I kept doing that. You know how this story ends.
I want to detail what I learned most over these last few weeks. I hope that these resonate with other people and can help in some way.
2. You should think of a plan as existing along a spectrum.
I guess one way to make your training more ideal is to accept a different premise. I am beginning to expect that my training (and other things in life) can exist on a spectrum. When Ithink about what I would have told myself if I were my own patient. I would have told myself to first concern myself with just implementing in regular running into my schedule. It has been many years since I’ve run consistently. And the other part is making sure that I’m doing the recovery work necessary for upholding that volume. When I was running consistently I was in college and graduate school. I had responsibilities, but I didn’t work 60 hours per week, interacting with patients, helping to run a business, growing a new idea (PrePose Method) and doing all of those other adult tasks (that I’m still reconciling as being a part of my life). And so many people have more responsibilities than me, so I think that we all need to think about having a plan that is flexible.
I was talking to my friend today about this idea of a minimal effective dose or minimum viable product. The way I think of it is that on one end of the spectrum there might be the most ideal version or dare I say “perfection”. On the other end is the minimal effective dose. The way I had been looking at it is that if I’m not on the perfection end, then I’m just failing. But I’ve been trying to look at it in terms of this minimal effective dose. I’m still able to run 4x/week. Part of the minimal effective dose is also recovering well. More on that next.
3. Doing more doesn’t make you feel better.
When I feel particularly stressed and when I feel like my schedule is so busy, my activity level mimics that. I just want to expend energy. I already am doing so much in a day, so I just want to keep that momentum going. I don't want to stop and get on my mat to practice yoga. I don't have to breathe fully into my chest to make my rib cage expand. I just want to sweat, my heart to pound, and to do something effortful. Clearly, you can see the issue with this.
What if the something effortful is putting in the effort to recover more effectively? I need to foam roll and stretch more. I need to practice yoga and pair my breath to movement. I need to sleep. I need to eat in a way that aids my recovery. (I resist the urge to apply morality to food choices.)
Eventually I know that I need to do more strength training. First, I need to reprioritize the recovery work, and I know that I should do more strength training. I want to just keep running. But running more doesn’t always help with running. In “doing more” I only chose running. I needed to be recovering more and doing more strength training.
4. Take care of your nagging pains
I recognize the absurdity of this. I AM A PHYSICAL THERAPIST. My husband or father in law can treat me. I tell people not to ignore their injuries. I have all of this equipment at my disposal. But honestly, when I’m at work, I do work and treat patients. So then when I get home at 8 pm, I make dinner and talk with John. I don’t ask him to treat me. I don’t foam roll and stretch after dinner. I don’t allocate enough time post run to stretch. I don’t allocate the time to practice yoga. These are all choices. I’m choosing to not take care of my pain.
It started in my right hip. My right hip has always been my tighter and weaker side. Then my foot started getting tight and through my calf. Now I have pretty significant point tenderness along the inside of my shin. I know better. I literally spend 70% of my day treating this pattern.
So I spent 4 weeks “managing it”, read: run through the pain and wait for it to kind of warm up and then do nothing to take care of it. But now, I’m at a point where I need to take care of it. These next 4 weeks prior to the race, I will reorient myself to recovering and taking care of my pain.
5. You need to be gentle on your body and mind.
This encompasses 1-4. As I was physically breaking down, I was tearing myself down psychologically. I created this narrative of inadequacy because there was a disconnect between my body and mind. My mind created a plan, and then I was upset that my body wasn’t following through with the “perfect plan”. My mind tried to combat that by just trying to “do more.” In the meantime, my body was falling apart. Then I just kept perpetuating this cycle. So I’m trying to synchronize myself. I’ll do that by:
My biggest hope for sharing this is that it helps someone else. You can look at me and say that I should be better equipped, because I am a clinician who regularly helps people with their training similar to what I’m doing. But clearly that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with the same exact things that I’m sharing with you. It’s not like I’m exempt from these same patterns. In addressing any of these issues, it’s, of course, first a matter of acknowledging it, and then it’s a matter of having a plan to address them. So this is my acknowledgement, and next week, I’ll have more details about my plan.
Oh, and here is all of training for the last 4 weeks :)
The Mobility-Doc Blog
Drs. Chloe Costigan and John Giacalone are both physical medicine specialists, former competitive athletes, and strength and conditioning coaches.